Sergei Bobrovsky was perfect. The rest of the Florida Panthers were just tough.
Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Lomberg scored 12 seconds apart in the third period, Bobrovsky made 18 saves for his 36th career shutout and the Panthers beat the Ottawa Senators 3-0 on Thursday night to snap a three-game slide.
Mason Marchment had a goal and an assist for the Panthers, and Hornqvist also had an assist. All three Florida goals were of the gritty variety from inside the crease, on a night where tempers flared with 19 penalties — four of them misconducts.
And Hornqvist said it was the sort of game Florida better be ready to see again.
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“That's what the playoffs are all about," Hornqvist said.
Anton Forsberg stopped 45 shots for Ottawa, including 37 of the first 38 he faced. But Hornqvist batted home a rebound for Florida’s second power-play goal of the night and a 2-0 lead early in the third, Lomberg got his goal after a shot squirted through Forsberg’s pads, and from there the only drama left was to see if Bobrovsky would get the shutout.
Bobrovsky is from Russia, his hometown of Novokuznetsk about 2,300 miles east of Moscow. The war that began when Russia invaded Ukraine is now in its second week, and Panthers coach Andrew Brunette said he talks with Bobrovsky regularly to find out how he's handling news from home.
“In our conversations, he's trying to focus on hockey," Brunette said. “He's kind of sad at all the events that are happening."
Ottawa won 8-2 in its other trip to Florida this season back in mid-December. This one was nothing like that — with the Senators needing almost two full periods just to get to eight shots.
“They were just hungrier than we were," Senators coach D.J. Smith said. “They beat us to all the pucks. We got eight on them last time. We knew they'd be ready."
The Panthers came into the night leading the NHL in shots per game at 36.8, and goals per game at 4.08.
Shots came easily Thursday.
Goals did not, until the third.
Florida outshot Ottawa 25-7 in the first period, 10-1 in the first 13 minutes of the second period — and still led only 1-0 despite that massive shot disparity. The Panthers hit goalposts, opposing defensemen and even their own teammates with shots, and the ones that got through the maze of bodies in front of the net were just about all handled by Forsberg.
Marchment’s 12th of the season came midway through the first period, three seconds before a double-minor assessed to Ottawa’s Erik Brannstrom for high-sticking Anton Lundell was set to reach the midway mark. The Senators challenged the goal unsuccessfully, so Florida had a 5-on-3 when play resumed and a golden chance to add to its lead.
The Senators killed off the two-man disadvantage, and it remained 1-0 until Hornqvist’s goal.
“Forsie was outstanding for us," Senators forward Brady Tkachuk said. “He kept us in it. It stings, it sucks, it's definitely frustrating for sure."
Bobrovsky was nowhere near as busy as Forsberg. But when called upon, he made more than a few spectacular stops — including two off a shorthanded breakaway in the first, the initial shot by Josh Brown and the rebound try by Alex Formenton.
He stayed sharp the rest of the way, and the Panthers' slide is over.
“I think tonight was our best 60-minute effort in a long time," Hornqvist said.
Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau saw his 10-game points streak end. He was bidding to become the fifth player in Florida history to have a point in 11 consecutive appearances, which would have joined Mike Hoffman, Pavel Bure, Evgenii Dadonov and Aleksander Barkov. Bure did it three times. Huberdeau’s streak of 10 consecutive games with an assist — a franchise record — was obviously snapped as well.
NOTES: Huberdeau’s sister, Josiane, performed the two national anthems pregame. She’s often called upon in Florida when the Panthers host a Canadian team. ... Senators C Josh Norris played for the first time since Jan. 27. He missed 15 games with a shoulder injury. He went 5 for 15 on faceoffs. ... The Panthers will have Pride Night on Saturday, with players wearing special jerseys in warmups and proceeds from some in-arena sales that night going to the Harvey Milk Foundation. ... Forsberg’s helmet came off twice in the first period.
Senators: At Arizona on Saturday.
Panthers: Host Detroit on Saturday.
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